Woman dies of flesh-eating bacteria contracted in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters

A Texas woman has died after contracting a flesh-eating infection in the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey.

According to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, 77-year-old Nancy Reed died on Sept. 15 of necrotizing fasciitis — a bacterial infection commonly found in flood waters which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “spreads quickly and kills the body’s soft tissue.”

The Institute reports that Reed fell in an area contaminated by flood water, which resulted in the infection. “Complicating blunt trauma of upper extremity” is also listed as Reed’s cause of death.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Reed is the second person to contract the flesh-eating bacteria in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Chronicle reports that one rescuer contracted the infection through an insect bite, but ultimately survived.

While most of the 82 people who died as a result of Hurricane Harvey were killed by intense flooding, a CNN report in the aftermath of the storm found large amounts of fecal matter and E. coli in samples of flood waters around the Houston area.

According to the CDC, good wound care is key to preventing necrotizing fasciitis. The center recommends “avoiding spending time in… natural bodies of water (e.g., lakes, rivers, oceans) if you have an open wound or skin infection.”

According to the CDC, the most common type of necrotizing fasciitis, A Steptococcus, resulted in between 700 and 1,100 cases in 2010. It’s not clear how many of those cases resulted in deaths.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.

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